Creation of the National Nature Park “Skhidnyi Steppe” as a means of preserving natural ecosystems in Northeastern Ukraine
The remnants of natural steppes in Northeastern Ukraine are represented in small areas, interconnected by riverbeds or large, extensive ravines and gullies. The presence of a large number of plant and animal species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine is the basis for granting of national protection status to these territories. The total territory of the prospective National Nature Park (NNP) “Skhidnyi Steppe” includes three clusters: Vovchanskyi, Burlutskyi and Kupyansko-Shevchenkivskyi, its total area is 22272.0 hectares. The future park covers the existing reserves "Vovchansky" and "Siverskodonetsky", the regional landscape park "Velykoburluk Steppe" (4 segments), and several reserves of a small area. In addition to the steppe areas, it is planned to include forests and meadow areas. The flora and fauna of the territory to be protected are of high conservation value: 25 species of vascular plants are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine; 63 species are listed in the Red List of Kharkiv region; 17 species of chalk outcrops and chalk steppes are relics; 49 animal species are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine; 100 animal species are listed in Annexes 2 and 3 of the Berne Convention, 27 bird species are included in the lists of Bonn Convention; 33 animal species are in the List of rare species and species requiring protection in the Kharkiv Region. In addition, the proposed park hosts groups of 11 formations included in the Green Book of Ukraine and 16 habitats in need of protection under the Berne Convention. The purpose of the establishment of the National Nature Park “Skhidnyi Steppe” is the protection of unique natural areas in Northeastern Ukraine, namely, the last remnants of steppe and meadow ecosystems and forests in steppe gullies, which are an integral part of the gully steppe macrocomplex. The primary task of the future national park is to protect the grasslands. The next step is the restoration of pasture ecosystems as habitats for rare and endangered steppe species. This paper describes the planned NNP as of early 2022; it does not reflect changes caused by the hostilities that began in February 2022 and continue in the northern part to date.
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